Every morning I get a great workout. Of course, it is only my index finger that is receiving the benefits of that workout – deleting spam and unwanted emails from my inbox. Just like you, each morning I am deluged with dozens of unsolicited emails.
Of course, in my opinion, I think that society makes more out of spam than it needs to. It takes all of a minute or so to delete those unwanted spam emails. Before the Internet, we all received “spam” in our mailboxes at home. But Congress doesn’t seem as concerned about that. To me, it’s easier to press delete a few times than it is to clutter my garbage cans and our landfills with junk mail. But that’s another article for another day.
In reality, many people today find unsolicited emails extremely irksome. And because of that, your legitimate email marketing is going to be scrutinized and given only a second or two before it is trashed or opened. This article is designed to help you create an email, whether a newsletter, promotion, or just a marketing message, that has a better chance of being read, than being dead.
We’ve been bombarded with so much Spam, that most of it is easy to spot with just a glance at the subject. “Impress your wife” = Spam. “Mortgage rates at all time low” = Spam. “Viagra by the truckload” = Spam. Those are the easy ones.
But your email communications aren’t spam. If the email marketing or newsletter is done right, it contains targeted, quality content that is useful to the recipients. The problem is, they won’t know that your email is not spam until they open it up and read it. And as ridiculous as it may seem, when it comes to email communications, you are usually guilty before proven innocent. In order for your prospects to read your valuable content, you have one or two seconds to scream, “Wait!!! Don’t delete me! I have something great to say! I’m not Sp…..”
Email spam is defined as any email that is not requested. In this literal sense of the definition, 99% of all emails are spam. Think about it. How many times do you call your boss just to give her a head’s up that you will be sending an email. Spammers have taken one of the best means of marketing ever created and turned it into a tool which many are afraid to touch. And likewise the spam-fearers have over-reacted. The result is an email that must past several tests before it dodges the delete key, gets opened and read. The following tests will help more of your emails get the response they deserve.
1. Avoid Spam-Alert Words
You know the big ones, like, er, um, “big ones”. And “free”, “offer”, “special”, “limited time”. You see any of these words in the subject, and your spam sensor is alerted and your finger is poised to delete.
Those are the obvious ones. To combat this, I’ve read a few articles that suggest using synonyms and close alternatives to these words. Will this work? Yes and no. Yes, you may be able to circumvent the “Spam-blockers” that your recipients may have. But, even if it those words escape the spam-blockers, human eyes are even tougher. They’ll see the words “No cost” as the same as “free” and immediately throw up a red flag. Delete.
Don’t try to beat the system with similar words. You need your customer to trust that your email communication has nothing to do with spam. To do that, your subject should be void of any words that are similar to spam words.
2. Avoid Using the Recipient’s Name in the Subject
Four years ago, the latest trend in email marketing was to use your recipient’s name in the subject line. Such as, “Don’t be the last one to get one of these, Warren.” Four years ago, Warren may have gotten excited about seeing his name in print, and he may have assumed that the email must be important if they knew his name.
Not the case today. If he saw his name in the subject line today, Warren would see it as common trickery that many Spammers partake in. He quickly presses Delete before going to floss (Warren has always taken great care of his teeth)
If you did want to use their name, and the customer did opt-in to your newsletter, then use their name sparingly in the body of the email. But using it their name in the subject throws up another red flag.
3. No punctuation, Excessive capitalization, Symbols, etc.
Again, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is, and will be deleted. Certainly you are excited about your promotion or articles, and that should shine through in the body copy of the email. The better the offer is, the more important it is to make sure you do not go overboard in the subject. Remember that among the least effective email campaigns are the ones that state that the recipient is already a winner. Delete.
4. First Things First.
I constantly see email newsletters that mention an article or promotion in the subject. Yet after scanning the entire newsletter, I either find the article hanging out near the bottom, or I can’t find it at all.
The subject isn’t just an attention-getter, it needs to flow seamlessly into the newsletter. If your subject mentions a new way to lose weight, that article needs to be front and center when the recipient opens the newsletter. If it’s not there, most recipients won’t hunt for it. Rather they’ll consider it a ploy to get them to open the newsletter – Delete.
Think about how Old Navy conducts their “Item of the Week” promotion. They advertise a clothing item at a reduced price. So when you walk into the store, the promoted clothing item is the first thing you see – you can’t miss it. Make sure that your first priority promotion or article is the first thing your recipient sees.
5. Targeted Subject
Let your recipients know immediately that the newsletter was meant for their eyes. Not by using their name, but by featuring their industry or interest in the subject line.
As an example, I get several email newsletters and articles each day, most of which are related to marketing, design or business. If I see a newsletter with the word marketing in the subject, I’m either reading it right then, or saving it to read later. On the other side of the coin, if I get a marketing-type newsletter that mentions nothing about marketing, I may or may not open it.
Remember, you’ve got only a couple of seconds to make your case and get your recipient to open the newsletter. Make sure that your newsletter centers around their interests and you’ve won half the battle. Of course, if you don’t know what your prospects’ industries or interests are, you might be doomed from the start.
6. Who is it From
After the subject, the next thing your recipient will usually look at to determine if they will open it is who sent the email. The worst choice is to use an email address that is gibberish or doesn’t go directly to a human.
The best results will be if your email is sent from a person at your company, i.e. [email protected]. This way it looks less like a form email and it also makes your email communications more personal.
7. Email content
The final tip that gives your email the best odds at being read has to do with the content itself. Always give your recipients an option of HTML or text and make sure that you send it to them in the format that they request. This may have less to do with the speed of their computer and more to do with their own preference.
Also include an opt-out option in the email and put them both at the top and bottom of the email. The recipient needs to know that they are reading this under their own volition and they can stop receiving the email communications if they wish.
With these tips, you’ll give your email the best chance at being read.